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There is this study out of Harvard last year that looked at how our
biases changed over time.
Researchers examined data collected over a nine year period that
measured implicit and explicit bias against certain marginalized
groups. When people were asked to evaluate their own explicit biases,
data showed that over the course of those nine years, racism dropped
by 37 percent.
Anti-gay attitudes declined by nearly half.
And bias against high weight people declined by 15 percent.
But when they measured implicit bias, which are our assumptions and
attitudes that we may not be aware of or willing to express, it
showed something much different.
The research found that people were drastically underestimating their
own biases.
Unconscious racism had only declined by 17 percent.
Anti-gay sentiments declined by a third.
And bias against high -weight people actually increased by 5 percent.
One of the things we know about intergroup relations is what's
supposed to happen is when you have more contact with, say, a person
who doesn't look like you, it should reduce your prejudice for that
person the more you interact with them and the better quality
relationships you have with them.
And what's interesting about weight is that doesn't seem to be
happening. And we don't really know exactly why.
But we do know that stigma, particularly for weight, is really,
really hard to reduce.
Studies show that these negative attitudes have had an impact on high
weight people in the workplace.
We live in a society where negative stereotypes towards people who
have high body weight are very common.
And those are stereotypes that people are lazy or lacking willpower
or discipline or are even less intelligent than others because of
their body weight. And those kinds of stereotypes and negative
attitudes become translated into overt forms of unfair treatment and
discrimination. Michigan is the only state that has passed
legislation that makes weight discrimination explicitly illegal.
And there are a handful of cities that have passed
anti-discrimination ordinances that address weight.
But there is currently no federal law protecting high weight people
from discrimination.
So how much weight discrimination is there in the workplace and what
can we do about it? There is a lot of disagreement about what
language to use when referring to high weight people.
Elizabeth Kristen is the director of the Gender Equity and LGBT
Rights Program for a non-profit organization called Legal Aid at Work
in California. In 2002, she wrote an article for UC Berkeley Law
Review titled "Addressing the Problem of Wage Discrimination in
Employment," which explored how this issue can be handled using
existing laws.
I think there's been a real medicalization at times of the issue of
weight. And so people, I think generally are comfortable with this
language of obesity and body mass index.
But it's actually a really alienating experience for people who have
what these days were calling high -weight individuals
Because it's very factual.
It's very much not implying a whole bunch of medical judgments about
the way. But it is recognizing the reality that people, at least in
our current society, who have different body weights, may face
different barriers to society.
A lot of the academic community still uses medical terms such as
"obese" or "overweight."
But many activists and other high-weight individuals feel these terms
pathologize their bodies.
For the purposes of this video, we've chosen to use the terms "high
-weight" and "people of size," except when referring specifically to
research that uses specific terminology.
High-weight individuals report discrimination in all aspects of life,
but specifically in the workplace.
Mary Himmelstein is an assistant professor at Kent State University
who studies weight stigma.
People with obesity are seen as less hirable, are seen as having less
supervisory potential, are hired less often — when they are, are
hired at lower salaries.
If it's in a job that's existing, people are willing to penalize them
more relative to thin applicants.
What's really interesting about this literature is even when you have
a resumé of an unqualified applicant who's thin, they're still seen
as better for the job than a higher body weight applicant who is
qualified for it. There are also reports of people of size being
relegated to what researchers call non-contact positions.
If you imagine a receptionist, for example, someone who can be the
face of the business, someone who every client comes in and interacts
with, it's very unlikely that the receptionist would be the high
weight individual. If they do hire a high-weight individual, they'd
be more likely to put them in a job behind the scenes in the
mailroom, for example, or somewhere where they're not going to be the
face of the company interacting with the public.
And the discrimination worsens when other factors are taken into
consideration, such as gender.
It does tend to be something that more women report than men,
particularly at lower levels of overweight compared to men.
So for women, for example, weight discrimination may kick in even if
their BMI is only a little bit higher than what we would consider to
be at a normal or thinner body type.
Whereas for men that weight discrimination doesn't kick in until
higher levels of obesity.
High-weight people are also consistently paid less than their thinner
colleagues. A 2004 study found that obese men made 3.4
percent less than their thinner counterparts and obese women made 6.1
percent less. Where you start on the ladder is really important for
where you end up on the ladder for salary.
So if you start low at salary, that means even if you're getting
increases in bumps, you're essentially going to stay lower.
And if you're also getting lower increases, then you might see a
larger gap as you move up in the work force rather than a smaller
one. A 2009 study estimates that between five and 22 percent of top
female CEOs in the U.S.
were overweight. The same study found that a lot more male CEOs were
overweight somewhere between 45 and 61 percent, suggesting that
standards are more forgiving for men when it comes to body size.
And the discrimination documented in these studies doesn't stop at
hiring or wages.
Inappropriate comments and interactions with colleagues at work can
sometimes rise to the level of harassment.
Workplace harassment looks like, at least in the case law that I
talked about in my article, was really open, almost playground
harassment that you would imagine seeing at a great school.
You know, people being called names like Fatty or Butterball, you
know, those kinds of names.
That's clearly inappropriate in the workplace, but it also may be
illegal. This treatment can also come in more subtle forms.
Every single employment experience that I've had has had some
negative experience for sure.
That's Lauren Haber Jonas.
She's the CEO of Part & Parcel, a plus-sized clothing company that
offers customers the opportunity to earn a commission through their
partnership program.
My first job out of college was at a Fortune 10 company, a very large
tech company. And we were given t-shirts as like a cohort of college
grads joining the company.
And there was not one in my size , men or women.
So I was the person that had to figure out how to cut the cut the
sides up my t-shirt and sew them together with shoelaces at the time
during a retreat. She realized how difficult it was for plus-sized
women to access professional clothing.
And it led to feeling like she didn't belong at work.
The real sort of crux of Part & Parcel was was for me as an 18 year
old kid in college wearing a man's suit to two college internship
interviews. And I still vividly remember what it was like to not only
be chastised overtly from both the interviewers and my peers, but to
feel out of place and therefore less confident.
We started specifically with workwear product for these reasons.
We have heard from women time and time again that she's 35.
She's 40. She hasn't worn a non-stretchy pants since she was 18.
Can you imagine walking into a high -powered environment or job
interviewing environment in an leggings?
Additionally, physical workspaces are often not designed with high
-weight employees needs in mind.
Other things that people tend to experience in the workplace that we
don't tend to think about are things like physical barriers.
So having chairs that have arms on them that not necessarily all
people can easily fit into can be a problem and an embarrassing
problem to have to go to your co-worker to address.
Research shows that experiencing weight stigma in the workplace has
severe impacts on people's well-being.
We know that when people experience weight stigma, that this worsens
health not just in terms of their emotional well-being, but also
their physical health as well.
And so I think it's helpful to really think about weight stigma, not
only as a social justice issue, but also as a public health issue
that we need to address.
Research shows that people who have experienced weight stigma have
higher rates of psychological disorders such as depression or
anxiety. And they are less likely to want to engage in physical
activity or exercise.
There are also studies that show experiencing weight stigma causes
overeating or binge eating.
There are also studies documenting physical side effects to weight
stigma that can be measured independent of someone's body weight.
It induces stress in your body and you can see that in your
physiological systems and that in and of itself actually can cause a
number of problems down the line.
So if this is something that you are experiencing over and over and
over again and it's essentially a normal part of your everyday life,
then eventually five, 10, 15 years down the road, you're going to
start to see problems in your biological systems in your body and the
cardiovascular system, and the endocrine system as a result of wear
and tear from the extra stress that you're getting from being
stigmatized. And again, over and beyond BMI.
Despite a large body of academic research documenting weight
discrimination in the workplace, there aren't comprehensive laws
addressing the issue.
That word, for example, weight showing up in the statute and saying
it's illegal for an employer to discriminate on that basis is
actually a very rare part of the law in the United States.
The state of Michigan has had a law prohibiting weight and height
discrimination since the 70s.
It was really on the vanguard, but no other states successfully
followed that. There is substantial support from Americans for laws
to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of weight.
But we've also looked at public support for kind of creating a new
form of legislation that would specifically prohibit weight
discrimination in the workplace.
That would make it illegal for employers to refuse to hire someone
because of their weight or to assign them lower wages or to terminate
them from a position unfairly because of their weight.
We're seeing as much as 80 percent of folks in our studies across the
country are supporting these measures.
So why hasn't there been more legislation addressing this issue?
The kinds of opposing arguments that have been raised in the past are
concerns that if we pass a law like this, that it would open the
floodgates for lawsuits, for example.
But if we look at the case of Michigan, that hasn't been the case at
all. In fact, the opposite.
We really have seen very few cases, probably because it's sending a
message that people are aware of and they're preventing these issues
from happening in the first place.
Many of the experts we spoke with suggested that employers take the
initiative to try to prevent discrimination without formal
legislation requiring it.
The best companies, the ones who take either H.R.
practices really seriously.
They're going to conduct training for their frontline managers.
They're going to make sure that they intervene and stop weight based
discrimination because it can lead to a lawsuit.
And even if a company ultimately prevails in a lawsuit about weight
discrimination, lawsuits are going to be for a company, expensive,
distracting — not what you want of you spending your time on.
Plus, why would weight discrimination bring any value to your
company? Why would you want to indulge people to, you know, harass
people with these kind of schoolyard epithets like, you know, Fatty
and Butterball? I have received increasing interest from employers
about what they can do to address this problem.
And, you know, I think within the workplace, this is a logical topic
that needs to be included in things like harassment, training or
diversity, education or also education and training for H.R.
folks and managers.
So there are a lot of, I think, relevant places and opportunities
where we can really increase education on this issue in the
workplace. You know, I've been in this field for almost 20 years and
I'm seeing more positivity, more support, more recognition of weight
stigma, t hat this is a legitimate form of bias in recent years than
I have before. And I think that shift in societal attitudes is going
to be very important.
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Why Weight Discrimination Persists In The U.S. Workplace

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Penny 2020 年 1 月 31 日 に公開
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